Baking

Rice pudding

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I remembered some raisins, currant’s and dried cherries that have been taking up fridge space soaking in rum and spices for over a month..

The usual basic rice pudding got a make over and the result was an OMG that’s so good moment.. the problem is I make a quart at a time and think it needs to be eaten NOW..

Which is a hold over from my pre-fridge third world lifestyle.. and yet another story, everything I cooked had to last a week on a counter….

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Pie dough and insomnia

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Sometimes projects come under the heading “proof of concept” which is then followed by refinement, hopefully ending in the OMG factor…

In some of the empanada looking things, the filling was green chili and pork “brisket”…. the others were roasted chicken, also with green chili.. plus they both got mozzarella mixed in with everything else…

I used a dough I could bake…. because fried isn’t something I like doing and have no good answer as to why not…

The concept is better than good, the little pie crusty things hit the OMG zone from the start.. just the baking aromas were enough to fire up a weak appetite.. The taste clinched the deal… I want a dozen or so more even it it was a pain to pull off…

But I learned a few things.. mince the filling finer, so the lumpy look goes away and it doesn’t poke through the dough… And don’t think about handling that kind of dough when its over 100 degrees at 3:00 AM cause it won’t be pretty even if it is amazing in every other way..

Seriously, I can put holes in that type of dough by looking at it, and need every advantage possible.

But other than that I was happy, happy with the results.. the crust was flaky and it all worked just right together..

Once the weather cools to a point butter doesn’t melt in five minutes… I want to do some more of the little crusty things with an eye to making them beautiful and refining the process..

And now I need to defrost the beef tongue so that can be dealt with, hopefully during daylight hours so the neighbors don’t smell smoke at 3:00 AM and freak out…

Baking custard at 4:00 AM

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I’m prone to waking up between 2:00 and 4:00 AM then cooking something for later in the day, rather than midnight snacking like a normal person..

Which is fine in it’s way… this time it was a little different, I had everything out and ready to go, rather than rummaging or working through some half formed idea.

Using the ramekins for egg custard, rather than some culinary alchemy is the pay off “this time”..

Why I only bought three ramekins is beyond me, other than I live by myself and don’t entertain… so it seemed like a reasonable number at the time..

Most recipes are for a goodly quantity and three is a logistical nightmare.. So it seems I need more or bigger ramekins.. probably both.

Working through the current project list is a project…since stuff gets hi-jacked and pressed into service as dinner out of sequence.

And there are some compelling projects.. Pot pies being a big one, but I keep eating the pork, beef and whatever meant for fillings because I’m to tired to fool with crusts and pans, much less waiting another hour…

The smoker is 10 hours of watchful attentiveness and that ain’t happenin, just yet.

I have some suspicions….

Breadhttp://www.foodandwine.co.nz/Artisan_Breads http://www.foodandwine.co.nz/Charcuterie

I’m supposed to be going to New Zealand to visit the GF.

However as an incentive..not that one is required, she’s decided to fill my idle time with courses at the New Zealand School of Food and Wine.. Plus anywhere else I want to go so I keep busy as per my compulsions..

Which is pretty sweet…

But I suspect she plans to have me bring back homework from charcuterie classes in the form of pancetta and be her personal chef…

Whatever, it works for me…

Besides they have lamb and mutton as well as an ocean full of fish on all sides….lets see how they like lamb tacos not to mention civiche…

Assuming I don’t get arrested for prying mussels off the rocks somewhere or other hi-jinks involving free food..

Bread

100_6920I like pointing out the obvious almost as much as redundancy and the whole passive aggressive thing..

My friends know I’m messing with them and make sure I suffer for it… not that I do, I laugh when they try to annoy me..

But I digress,

I live in a little trailer or at least sleep, cook and hide there, when I’m not in the shop or out running around which is most of the time..

The point is, I can pretty much cook, bake or do anything else I want in three feet of space, with whats at hand… even a $20 oven from a salvage yard.. a $1,500 oven from Home Depot might be wonderful..but it just does the same thing I’m already doing, plus I don’t have to cough up $1,480..

Win Win…. besides, I don’t have to deal with house guests.. which is win, win, win.

Its all part of the master plan…

Budget 101

100_6945 A good pizza costs minimum $15-$20 at a non chain, non-soggy, non-greasy pizzeria..

Make your own exactly how you like it $1.50-$2.00 add a few friends who bring beer if you’re so inclined and you have a social event..

Or hoard it and have whats left for breakfast…

I happen to like ramen…. but the first thing I do is throw away the seasoning packets and mess with my dinner… an egg goes in.. be it boiled, sliced, raw or egg thread style, then add whatever, red pepper flakes, ginger, scallions or anything else I can think of… a hot and sour riff isn’t out of the question, nor is Miso…shrimp, cod fish shavings or nori unusual.. it still comes in at under $1 and won’t kill you like the dollar menu will…

The thing about making a budget a non suffering part of life is being able to like what you have or change things around in such a way..you like what you have.

You can have a survival mindset and fight through it.. OR enjoy it and prevail in a happy jolly kinda way..

Secret two is a pantry..3 is knowledge.. 4 is to adapt and cross cultures as often as possible.. its mostly the same stuff done in different ways…

Hummis assuming you like it… is $4 or more, made at home starting with chickpeas on the hoof is .25 cents… chapatis, naan, and pitas to name a few flat breads cost about the same..if that.

As take out or retail, its expensive stuff..but made at home, it isn’t and its the bomb..

Apparently I’m not over gravlax love yet….

100_8935 100_8936 100_8941 I had thought soft baked egg’s, polenta and shrimp would be a nice breakfast… which was correct… until I thought about bruschetta, which led to gravlax and in turn drifted into randomness.

Why I have no idea, I’d been awake for hours, had coffee and most of my faculty’s were intact…

I blame project week which is a personal tradition that no-one but me gets..The premise is, do new stuff, learn new stuff, make new stuff, build something and leave no “I wanna do X” behind… project week can last up to a year since I have a sketchy time sense, but that’s a different issue..

Project week is the bomb… and it can be anything that improves life or infrastructure.. mostly my dinner.. this go round is gravlax, curing bacon, home-made mozzarella and building a bicycle trailer… Bread, baking and pizza are a daily thing..

Roasting green coffee beans is on the list…. but what I want to do is pretty specific and has nothing to do with popcorn poppers or cast iron skillets..

Later in the week, the smoker gets a work out…. followed making a set of instructions for a friend who asked me how to cook chicken.. which is basically, season it, wrap it in parchment paper, set the oven at 400 and come back in an hour.. with photos.

It’s fun to me… which is kind of the point no?